Thalapathy Vijay goes into full John Wick mode with his 2023 action-thriller film Leo. Lokesh Kanagaraj and his team have designed some of the best action sequences that surpass anything we’ve seen in recent Indian films. But what makes Leo really remarkable is the gripping storyline, which perfectly fits into a fast-paced screenplay with no dull moments at all. And the background score is just the cherry on top. At its core (spoiler alert), the film is about a man trying to bury his “history of violence” so that he can live a peaceful life with his family, but the ghosts of his past haunt him and won’t leave him alone until the man has dealt with his adversaries. So, without further ado, let’s break down Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Leo in order to understand its protagonist’s choices and why he ran away from his “bloody” family.
How Did Parthiban Expose His Real Identity?
From catching a stray hyena in his local community to beating gangsters in his Wild Beans Cafe, Parthiban avoids the media limelight all along. The reason is that even a single picture of his infamous face would bring a storm into the new world that he has created. Parthiban lives a secluded life in Theog, Himachal Pradesh, with his wife, Sathya, and two kids, “Siddharth” Siddhu and Chintu. He owns a cafe and sometimes helps the forest ranger, Joshy Andrews, catch the animals that accidentally enter the town and threaten the local community. Everything goes perfectly until a gang of malicious killers enter Theog looking for a place to hide after a deal goes wrong. The most vicious one in the lot dares to enter Parthiban’s Cafe at night and tries to harass his employee, Shruthi. Parthiban maintains his cool until the goon tries to harm his daughter, and that is when they witness Parthiban transforming into their worst nightmare. The man unleashes his fury and shoots everyone at point blank without blinking an eye. At this point, it is quite evident that Parthiban isn’t the man he claims to be. He tries to maintain his facade of normalcy in front of his family and the people around him, but as viewers, we can guess that there is some mystery tied to Parthiban’s past.
During Parthiban’s trial, a reporter finally makes their editor happy and clicks a clear picture of Parthiban’s face that is broadcast on all prime newspapers and media channels. The news spreads like wildfire throughout the entire country that a man with a face identical to Leo Das has been spotted in the northern regions of India. It is a no-brainer that Leo Das was quite famous for his “bloody sweet” history of violence. The news finally reaches Leo’s hometown, Telangana, where his previous family resides. Usually, family members are happy to find out that one of their own is alive, but that isn’t the case here. Leo’s uncle, Harold, and father, Antony, unleash their sharpest blades to kill the son who once stabbed them in the back. Or was it the other way around?
Who were Antony and Harold?
Leo Das was the son that every father would be proud of, only if the father was a cold-blooded murderer himself. The young prodigy handled the gun like a samurai would handle their blade. And he didn’t always feel the need to pull the trigger; sometimes, just rolling the barrel of the pistol on his arm would do the job. Men feared Leo not because he was strong but because he was strong-willed. Leo had an unshakeable loyalty to his father, Antony, and would have done anything to fulfill his wishes. However, the man refused to become a part of his father’s madness.
We come to know about Leo’s past and Antony’s empire through Leo’s friend and partner-in-crime, Hridayaraj D’Souza, who was spending the remaining days of his life in Shimla prison. In order to find out Parthiban’s real identity, Joshy met with D’Souza inside the prison, only to hear a story where a father killed his own blood, falling prey to superstitions. In 1999, Antony and Harold used to run the most flourishing tobacco factory in the whole of Andhra Pradesh. However, the business was just a front for a special drug called “Datura” that Harold had formulated all by himself. It was believed that Harold’s drug was more lethal than even cocaine, and the duo didn’t leave any stone unturned to sell it to both the national and international markets. While the brothers handled the top-level management, Antony’s son and the twin daughter, Elisa, looked after ground-level business, like smuggling drugs from one state border to another.
Why did Leo leave Das & Co.?
It was a usual business for the drug cartel family, but what’s peculiar in this case was Antony’s strong-rooted belief in dark rituals. The man used to sacrifice endangered animals and even humans, believing the ritual would make his business flourish. For a long time, Antony had been looking for a human born under a unique horoscope that would stabilize his business and make it flourish like the old times. Call it a coincidence or test of destiny; that person had been in Antony’s family all along. It was his daughter and son who were born under the unique horoscope that Antony had been looking for, and therefore, he had to sacrifice one of his own to fulfill his greed. While the film doesn’t hint so, I believe Harold orchestrated the entire fiasco so that an obsessed Antony would kill Leo and, after his brother’s death, he would be able to take over the drug empire. Additionally, when Antony asked for advice on who to sacrifice, Harold didn’t give a second thought before suggesting Leo’s name. Nevertheless, when the young boy found that his own father had decided to kill his sister, he couldn’t hold back any longer. The children, at this point, were certain that the man standing in front of them was nothing but a monster and might have a role to play in their mother’s death. Leo unleashed his anger and tried to save Elisa, but in the end, he failed to do so.
Harold stabbed his own niece to death, while Antony shot Leo in order to stop the boy from burning down the tobacco factory, the business that he loved more than his children. According to D’Souza, Leo died in front of his eyes, therefore suggesting that Parthiban couldn’t be the threatening killer he once knew. However, it was all a lie. After having a near-death experience, Leo had a change of heart. He had realized that, in his profession, there wasn’t anyone whom he could call his own. Even his own father and uncle didn’t bat an eye before entertaining the thought of killing their family. Leo no longer wanted to be a part of such a family or line of work. He wanted to raise a normal family and live a peaceful life away from blood and violence, which was why Leo took the identity of Parthiban to start over. But no matter how much a person tries to run away from his past, it has a way of catching up to them in the end, and it happened with Leo. After coming face-to-face with his father in his cafe, Leo became certain that there was no running away from it, and he had to take matters into his own hands one last time so that he could protect his new family and end the cycle of violence, similar to what John Wick had been trying to do in the past four films and might continue to do so in the future installments.
Did Leo tell Antony the truth before killing him?
Antony arrived in town to get back at his son, and for that, he was willing to go to any lengths. He even kidnaps his grandson, Siddhu, and sends him back to Telangana so that Parthiban will be compelled to confess his real identity. Parthiban deals with Antony in full Leo style and looks the dying man in the eyes before the scene fades out. Antony’s last question for Parthiban was the same that he had been asking all along, and at the end of the film, we see Parthiban confessing to Antony that he was in fact Leo. However, the price of learning about Parthiban’s true identity was death. Because for Parthiban, Leo was dead, and if anyone tried to resurrect him, they would have to die.
Did Siddhu find out his father’s true identity?
Parthiban might have convinced his wife, Sathya, that he wasn’t the man that the entire world believed him to be, but Siddhu could see through his father’s lies. Leo had executed a perfect plan to hide his real identity and even instructed his friends from their past lives to do the same. The man didn’t want to have any connection with the past because he knew that in such a scenario, he would only bring harm to his new family, who would never accept a killer amongst them. Parthiban wanted to live a normal life and be a common man for the rest of his life, which was why he needed to cut off all ties with the past.
During Leo’s ending, Parthiban not only finishes off an entire army of goons but also shoots Harold at point-blank so that the uncle can’t haunt him any longer. He finally saves his son and brings him back safely to Theog, but only after burning down his legacy; Das & Co. Parthiban obviously didn’t want even one living soul in that factory to ever turn up again in Himachal Pradesh. However, before reaching the house, Parthiban made his son promise to him that he would never speak of what really happened at the factory. Perhaps Parthiban knew that Siddhu was aware of his father’s real identity, and therefore, he wanted him not to reveal the same to his mother; otherwise, she wouldn’t stop suspecting him. However, at the end of the film, Lokesh Kanagaraj subtly suggests in a humorous way that maybe Sathya is aware of the truth; it’s just that she doesn’t want to talk about it, complicating their simple and peaceful lives. Parthiban himself wanted to let bygones be bygones, but the past wasn’t done with him.
In the end, Agent Vikram from Lokesh Kanagaraj’s film Vikram, set in the same universe, contacts Parthiban in order to hire him for another drug-busting operation. Vikram obviously knows that Parthiban isn’t a hero but was a gangster in his previous life; however, the man had redeemed himself by going against his own father and uncle, and therefore, his skills could be put to use to stop the greater evil in the world. So we are going to see Parthiban transforming into Leo once again, and if you are curious about what role he might play, feel free to check out possible theories about it here.